By Nancee Wells, Special to the Independent
Once again, the Channel Islands bald eagle chicks are hatching and doing so without human assistance.
Today, bald eagles are hatching naturally on four of the Channel Islands, including Catalina Island, which has seven nesting pairs that have already hatched four chicks this season, according to Dr. Peter Sharpe, project manager for the Bald Eagle program.
He and his assistants monitor all the bald eagle pairs to document when eggs are laid, hatched and fledged. They also have hiked batteries, solar panels, and other camera equipment all over the islands to install nest cams so everyone can see how the bald eagles care for their young. Chicks grow as large as their parents within eight weeks and leave the nest by 12 weeks.
Biologists for the non-profit Institute for Wildlife Studies started the Bald Eagle Recovery Program in 1980 with the goal of reintroducing bald eagles to the Channel Islands. DDT dumping off the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the 1950s infiltrated the eagle’s food supply and wiped out the population. For years, biologists resorted to costly intervention, taking DDT-thinned eagle eggs from nests and raising chicks. Six years ago, a bald Eagle chick hatched in a nest on the Channel Islands without human assistance for the first time in over 50 years.
To see the birds on their nests, go to www.iws.org/interactive_nestchat.html
Laguna Beach resident and wildlife photographer Nancee Wells volunteers for the Institute for Wildlife Studies and raises funds for the bald eagle program.